Monday, July 13, 2009
Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and ENID BLYTON
It never fails to warm the cockles of my heart when I read those 'ten books that influenced me' columns and see so many writers from a wide spectrum of genres cite Enid Blyton as their early inspiration.
I can still recall being a small child in Papua New Guinea, holding an Enid Blyton book in my hand, trembling with excitement as I stared at the incomprehensible scribbles and markings. I knew if I mastered reading I would be privy to the magic this book promised.
After my blue-and-red readers I progressed to Enid and what a universe of joy and magic she led me to. I still enjoy her books and have the great satisfaction of introducing my daughter to her works. Indeed, Enid is the first author I have seen my daughter weep when we reach the end of the chapter, begging, and screaming for 'one more, just one more!'
No higher accolade for a storyteller!
Through Daisy I’ve gained an appreciation of Noddy, The Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair that I didn't have when younger. But I’ve never liked the Mr Twiddle books!
My personal favourites were the mystery books. Famous Five would make my heart race faster when I held their hardcovers, ready to begin a new adventure. Nearly every female I know wanted to be George, but I loved Anne - so sensible and her dresses were great! I also enjoyed Secret Seven and adored the boarding school stories, St Clare's and Malory Towers. I desperately wished I had been christened Angela (a boarding school type of name in my opinion) and could go to boarding school and eat such delicious sounding food as anchovy paste toast and cream buns in midnight suppers. It was a world far removed from my own Tasmanian midlands upbringing.
Re-reading the books again, I'm struck by how similar they are to the Rowling books with their spells, exploding toffee shocks and schools of enchantment. But Enid was there first, chanelling all her glorious tales long before Harry Potter madness.
Librarians may have banned her, but when Daisy visits libraries she's often disappointed at the choices where animals take major roles in books - or when the books have 'worthy' subjects such as dealing with the loss of a parent or having gays as parents. Daisy wants simply stories about children - preferably children eating loads of junk food and having wild adventures without their parents. Parents in the books are simply there to pack the hampers with chocolate cake, egg sandwiches and lashings of ginger-beer.
Enid understood this longing in a child's heart for stories of their own tribe because she too craved stories about children when she was a child. I hunt down vintage copies for our collection as I don't like the rewritten versions. No doubt my mother threw out a lot of my old books which I'm now recollecting.
I'm also a member of The Enid Blyton Society and receive their journal three times a year. My appreciation of Enid has only grown over the years rather than dimmed. When I'm feeling low, a read of St Clare's or Malory Towers and I often pick up again.
Thanks to Enid, I believe that rabbits do live in cozy homes under tree roots. She gave me magic in my childhood as I hungered for smugglers, secret passages, tea-parties with fairies, jolly japes on deserted islands, purses with coins that kept coming and all washed down with lashings of ginger beer. She also gave me a great love of England. I still thrill when I see her books that I loved so much as a child.
And so for Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday let us take inspiration from the storyteller who knew how to capture generations of children and adults with her spell-binding, non-pretentious joyous tales. Let us celebrate Enid Blyton! For more about this very complex, talented, child-like woman, you can do no better than Barbara Stoney's biography, a fascinating read about the artist behind the tales.
And soul of a child,